• GMC Canyon gets diesel engine, 7,700-lb tow rating

    July 28, 2015

    Confirming recent rumors, General Motors has announced that its GMC Canyon will be available with a diesel engine for the 2016 model year.

    The 2.8-liter Duramax oil burner will deliver 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, allowing drivers to tow up to 7,700 pounds — up 10 percent compared to the gasoline-powered variants. The powerplant is matched exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission, outfitted with a pendulum vibration absorber to reduce powertrain noise and vibration.

    “A diesel engine was part of the Canyon’s portfolio plan from the beginning, meaning the chassis, suspension and other elements of its architecture were engineered to support it,” said assistant chief engineer Scott Yackley. “That means there are no compromises with the Canyon diesel. It offers exceptional capability delivered with a confident feeling of control.”

    GM has integrated an automatic exhaust-brake system that works in conjunction with cruise control, taking advantage of the diesel engine’s strong compression to maintain speed on downhill grades without wearing the brake pads and rotors.

    The big question is fuel efficiency, however GM has not yet announce official EPA figures for the new package. The company is presumably attempting to beat the diesel segment leader, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which boasts a city/highway rating of 21/29 mpg in two-wheel-drive guise.

    The Duramax engine will be available on either the 2WD or 4WD Canyon, fetching a $3,730 premium over a comparable V6 model. The company is also expected to offer the same diesel mill on the Chevrolet Colorado.

  • Hyundai releases DIY Android Auto upgrade [Video]

    July 28, 2015
    Hyundai announced Tuesday that existing owners can now upgrade their in-dash systems to incorporate Android Auto without having to visit a dealer.

    The free upgrade is available to owners of 2015 and newer Sonatas with existing touchscreen navigation. Owners can complete the process at home so long as they have a computer with Internet access, a USB drive, and roughly an hour to complete the installation (a full walk-through video is included below).

    In order to take advantage of Android Auto features, owners must have a smartphone (or other connected device) running Android 5.0 “Lollipop” or newer with the companion app installed (available for free on Google Play). Once connected, users can activate features of their phones via the in-car interface, allowing for integration of Android’s voice recognition system, certain streaming services and many notifications.

    This is the first software update the automaker has made available to customers via MyHyundai (www.myhyundai.com).

    “Sonata owners can add more value with Android Auto in an easy-to-do upgrade that takes less than an hour. Hyundai is continuing to offer the best user experience possible by leveraging its MyHyundai platform, so customers have the option to update their car – their way,”said Michael Deitz, senior group manager of Connected Care, Hyundai Motor America.

  • VW outpaces Toyota in global sales race

    July 28, 2015
    Volkswagen has overtaken Toyota as the top-selling global automaker in the first half of 2015.

    Toyota reported global deliveries of 5.02 million units Tuesday (a 1.5% drop compared to a year ago), falling just short of the 5.04 million deliveries reported by Volkswagen earlier in July.

    According to Reuters, Toyota attributes the decline to slow sales in developing markets and domestic tax pressure on its small vehicles.

    Volkswagen’s total global deliveries were also down compared to last year, but only by 0.5%, making the race for first place a struggle between two behemoths who are both working hard to mitigate declines.

    Volkswagen’s biggest declines on a percentage basis were reported in Brazil (-29.6%) and Russia (-40.9%)–countries where the auto industry as a whole has struggled–but the largest decline in volume took place in Asia, where struggling sales in China cost the automaker roughly 70,000 units on a 3.9% decline.

    Toyota will announce its full earnings report (which should include comprehensive global delivery data) next Tuesday.

  • Audi recalls SQ5 to fix electric steering failure

    July 28, 2015

    Audi has issued a recall for approximately 5,600 SQ5 crossovers from the 2014 and 2015 model years.

    The campaign is related to a problem with the electric power-steering system, which is prone to shut down due to a steering-motor sensor fault. The issue is said to be associated with cold ambient temperatures.

    “If the vehicle experiences a loss of power steering assist, extra steering effort will be required at lower speeds, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash,” the recall documents note, though no accidents or injuries have been blamed on the behavior.

    The company spotted the first signs of trouble in February when it noticed an increase in power-steering warranty complaints during periods of cold weather. An inquiry from Transport Canada followed in March, prompting an in-depth analysis of field data and parts. The behavior was replicated via bench tests and during vehicle tests in Sweden.

    Engineers developed a software fix that updates the logic in the power-steering control module, preventing accidental shutdown.

  • GM to spend $5B on new vehicle line for emerging markets

    July 28, 2015
    As automakers face potential trouble in China, General Motors and its Chinese partner are planning to develop a new vehicle line targeted at other emerging markets that show potential for fast growth.

    GM and state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC) will spend $5 billion to develop the all-new family of small vehicles. They will carry Chevrolet badges and roll off assembly lines in Brazil, China, India and Mexico.

    “With a significant majority of anticipated automotive industry growth in 2015 to 2030 outside of mature markets, Chevrolet is taking steps to capitalize on that growth,” said GM president Dan Ammann. “We have taken many decisive actions over the past few years to restructure our business in specific markets as part of our plan to become a more customer-focused company and to generate superior returns on our owners’ capital.”

    GM and SAIC already work together in China, where the joint-venture sold more than 1.7 million vehicles in the first half of the year. Instability in China’s stock markets caused overall sales in the world’s largest auto market to decline in June, representing the first backward slide in more than two years, however GM and SAIC posted their best-ever sales for the month.

    The latest announcement provides more context for GM’s rebuff of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s pleas for further industry consolidation. He had named GM as FCA’s top-choice merger partner, however GM politely declined and expressed a preference for further consolidation within its own global operations.

    GM suggests the new jointly-developed Chevrolet family will allow the company to tailor vehicles for customer tastes in each market, while allowing the automaker partners to benefit from a global-scale architecture.

    “This new vehicle family will feature advanced customer-facing technologies focused on connectivity, safety and fuel efficiency delivered at a compelling value,” said GM development head Mark Reuss. “It will be a combination of content and value not offered previously by any automaker in these markets that are poised for growth.”